Brave New World, widely considered to be one of the finest and most prophetic dystopian novels of the 20th century, bursts into life on stage in a version by award-winning playwright Dawn King.
A brand new stage adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s seminal novel, presented by Touring Consortium Theatre Company and Royal & Derngate Northampton, is set to open next month.
Directed by R&D artistic director, James Dacre with original new music by the ground breaking British band These New Puritans, the production premieres at Royal & Derngate before touring.
Already announced, Sophie Ward, whose extensive screen credits include TV series Land Girls, Heartbeat and Holby City will play Margaret Mond, the regional world controller for Western Europe.
The role has undergone a sex change for this new work and was originally Mustapha Mond in the ground-breaking novel.
Olivier Award-winning Abigail McKern, last seen in Northampton in A Tale of Two Cities and fresh from Shakespeare in Love in the West End, takes the role of Linda.
The ensemble cast also includes Olivia Morgan (Macbeth, West End, The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s Globe), William Postlethwaite (King Lear, Bath Theatre Royal, Collaborators, National Theatre) as John the Savage, Scott Karim (The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s Globe, Great Britain, National Theatre) as Helmholtz Watson, and Gruffudd Glyn (Three Sisters, Young Vic, Hamlet, RSC) as Bernard.
The cast also includes Theo Ogundipe, Samantha Pearl, James Howard and David Burnett.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was first published in 1932, and is widely seen to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century, anticipating developments in reproductive technology, psychological manipulation and behavioural conditioning.
Set 600 years in the future human life has been almost entirely industrialised, and humans are created and conditioned in a lab according to a strict caste system, in a World State whose motto is “Community, Identity, Stability”.
Monogamy, the family unit and the ‘natural’ process of giving birth, are considered horrific and unnatural, and material comfort and physical pleasure – provided by the drug soma and recreational sex — represent society’s highest good.
Dawn King said: “Huxley’s novel is over 80-years-old, but his vision of the future is shockingly familiar.
“In many ways, we already live in Brave New World: a glittering dystopia built on inequality, where people keep themselves distracted with empty pleasures, chemical stimulants and consumer goods.
“Adapting this huge work for the stage has been as tough and stimulating as anything I’ve ever done and a huge pleasure.”
James Dacre added: “Asking whether it is better to be free and unhappy or to live in forced happiness, incapable of accepting freedom, our version of Brave New World will explore the ways that we currently live our lives, imagining how tomorrow’s world might look as a consequence of today’s choices.”
Jack Barnett from These New Puritans said: “We’re really pleased to be involved with Brave New World. I don’t think we could have picked something more suitable if we’d had a million options”.
UK tour dates:
September 4-26, Royal & Derngate, Northampton September 29-October 3, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh October 6-10, Oxford Playhouse October 13-17, Theatre Royal, Nottingham October 20-24, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham November 3-7, Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton November 10-14, Darlington Civic Theatre November 24-28, Grand Theatre, Blackpool December 1-5, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford.